Sanjoy Mukherjee, Senior Director & Head of Alliances & Channels ,Technology and Cloud Platform, Oracle India elucidates on Oracle’s cloud strategy and the roles of the partner ecosystem.
What are the solutions and services in the Oracle portfolio and how do you differentiate from competitors?
Oracle offers highly automated and secure second generation cloud infrastructure, including the self securing , self-repairing self-driving autonomous database. We also offer a complete suite of integrated applications for sales, services, marketing, human resource, finance, supply chain, and manufacturing. In short, we have the ERP, HCM, CX all put together.
We offer a single vendor support across IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. Oracle cloud infrastructure, which we call as the OCI, from an IaaS, PaaS perspective brings about four advantages. First, OCI offers considerable higher performance for the same number of CPU storage across multiple workloads. Be it the Oracle database, non Oracle database, VDI workloads or mixed workloads. We do this for a bare metal, VMware, GPC and HPC workloads, which is high-performance workload. Secondly, our core infrastructure services are considerably cheaper than any other cloud providers. The noteworthy price differential is on block storage, network or private connectivity cost.
The third reason is that OCI or Oracle cloud infrastructure was purposely built from scratch for enterprise customers. This means that we are offering the choice of deployment location, whether it is deployment in Oracle data center or customer’s data center, which we call as dedicated region or Xexa cloud at customer. It has a public cloud at behind the firewall while at the customer’s premises, the choice of admin control, full control are all provided by our differentiated solutions and the self-driving experiences from our autonomous services.
We are the only cloud provider which guarantees SLAs across three dimensions, which are availability, performance and manageability. The fourth reason is Oracle is the only cloud vendor with a vision of becoming an autonomous cloud. We are the only ones offering portfolio of autonomous services. It started off with autonomous database in 2018, autonomous Linux in 2019 and we have extended this portfolio to autonomous data guard this year.
This autonomous vision is wholeheartedly endorsed by the analyst community and liked by our partners and customers. In short Oracle cloud is hyperscale, open, secure, and offers strong security, superior performance, superior economics, autonomous vision, and is prefered by enterprise.
What are the salient differentiators of Oracle’s cloud game plan in India?
Oracle has been serving customers in India for more than three decades. More than 20 stats run on Oracle alone, with 15,000 companies in India benefiting from Oracle solutions. We have come to our next growth with cloud, which is acquiring a dominant role, but finally the choices are with the customer.
If the customer wants to go from an on-premise solution or continue to an on-premise solution, or he wants to have a mix of cloud or hybrid solution, or it’ is only cloud also we offer the options.. Now in the question of only cloud perspective, we have both public cloud and private. As far as the other public cloud perspective, we have superior products and we are catching up on the other providers as shown by the other reports. Differentials, which we bring to the table, e are becoming a great proposition for the customers, the partners, and also analysts are taking note of it.
To the second part in terms of unique proposition, which Oracle brings to the table is what we call as the cloud at customer, which is basically we give all the features of a private cloud in the customer premises and it is remotely managed by Oracle. That is our overall play other than the public cloud perspective, and we are seeing great response from both customers, partners.
The next part is that if you look at it, our cloud first strategy, it becomes very imperative that the partner ecosystem is well established and we are talking about engaging with customers on transformation deals. The cloud has shifted customer demands placing the focus on innovation, speed and customer experience. The programs are designed to enable the partner’s journey with respect to cloud perspective, to meet these evolving expectations and ensure customer success.
OCI, which is our Gen 2 cloud, is currently available across 24 regions worldwide. And we are aggressively planning to have growing it at an unprecedented rate of a new region going live in every 26 days. This will bring us to close to 36 regions by July, 2021. We already have two data centers in India, one in Mumbai and second in Hyderabad. Our data center comes with the most advanced technologies and therefore serves as a powerful platform for innovation, our partners and customers.
There are a lot of transformation deals, which has happened in the past. These are cloud transformation deals whether we talk about moving the Oracle workloads, or we talk about the Oracle application workload or any sort of constellation workload, even from that perspective, our partner or ISV services and solutions workload whether it is the field of verticals like, BFSI or manufacturing. We had great success with a lot of transformation deals along with partners. In the overall perspective with the cloud differentiation story, and the kind of growth we see quarter by quarter, across the world, we are growing from a cloud perspective, including in India. We think that we have a great story and everyone is appreciating that and we are looking forward to this momentum.
What are the important aspects of Oracle’s channel strategy and how did it play a role in the current situation?
Partners account for around 80% of all Oracle transactions from an Asia Pacific region. They are very important. They are one of our key stakeholders when it comes to driving growth for Oracle cloud in India. We treat partners as an extension of the organization itself and hence it becomes very important that we enable partner resources like every other resources in our own organization, because they will go and propose the solution, the services, the builder on top of a flat platform. This we believe can be achieved by a well designed and sustained partner program where the partner organization can understand and appreciate the technology being positioned and how they can integrate it into their business to help customers and other business, and make businesses of customers more successful.
Now more Indian organizations are looking to improve their business resilience and also on a growth track with cloud led innovation owing to the current situation. Industry experts anticipate an increased demand for secure cloud services. We see partners playing a big role in fulfilling this demand as they seek more collaboration opportunity with us to help their end customer realize extreme performance, greater security, and increased cost saving via Oracle cloud.
We have modernized our partner program, which we call as Oracle Partner (OPN 2020). It is a very simplified program. An enhanced OPN program has been designed to accelerate our partners own transition to cloud, as well as drive a superior customer experience and business outcome. From this perspective now with the present scenario, if you look at it, our primary focus is to make it possible for our customers to continue running their operations and help them quickly respond to the unique demands they may be facing during this challenging time.
For decades, Oracle has been in the business of mission critical workloads, powering business and industries across the world. Another key focus is to help on customers’ digital infrastructure to serve customer remotely while enabling employees to work from home. Additionally, we are empowering our employees with necessary resources and support so that we can serve customers when they need us the most. Our customers are in the midst of adapting to a rapidly evolving digital landscape and some of the ways in which Oracle is helping customers to adapt to the new normal includes free access to online learning content and certification. This is for a broad area of users for Oracle cloud infrastructure, Oracle autonomous database as well as content related to topics such as data sciences, machine learning environment, such as integration with the Microsoft Azure. Customers can use the access to more than 50 hours of online training, and 6 certification exams via Oracle university.
Those are free HR tools to help customer keep their employees safe, free access to a workforce healthy and safety thing, from an Oracle human management, capital management cloud customers, solutions to current Oracle human capital cloud customers. We offer three cloud infrastructure credits for startups as a part of our Oracle startup program. This is from a customer perspective earlier, but we have in this time passed on and we have worked with the partners also closely in this present time. We have helped some of our customers to support the business continuity during this unprecedented time.
We have helped two banks achieve the merger before the due date of April 1st, 2020, and customers were able to use essential financial services of either of the banks from April 1. We have helped a number of banks implement regulatory guidelines in three months. We have helped a midsize bank with free access to our workforce health safety module and they have developed a specific personalized model on top of this free models. We have helped a manufacturing company to track employee wellness and provide meds around and customer links and other communication from top management perspective.
What are the changing patterns in workloads for enterprises during this pandemic?
On that workload moment perspective whether it is Oracle workloads or non Oracle workloads and even new blockchain perspective, we are working very closely with our customers, partners and helping them from that perspective.
How is the partner ecosystem structured at Oracle?
We had re-strategized and launched our Oracle partner OPN 2020 program where we have simplified the OPN program and put it under different partner tracks. One is the cloud CellTrak where we have cloud partners that come with great customer relationship, join us, participate in business development from an IaaS, PaaS and IaaS perspective.
Secondly, from our OPN 2020 partner program is the services track where the customer partners are focused on providing complimentary services that all our cloud services required, or those, our customer, which they required. The third track is the build track. This is for our independent software vendors, ISVs and other partners that provide commercially available product or services built or integrated with Oracle cloud. For example, ISV maybe focused around financial vertical and may have a core banking software and another is we may be focused around manufacturing and providing certain solutions. The fourth track is our license and hardware resell track which recently is basically from our license and hardware resell.
In short, there are four tracks and the partner has the flexibility to join any track as per their focus area and work on the same. The way we are trying to work is that, one is a sell track and another is a service and build streams. There are partners who are doing all of them or few partners specifically or delicately focused on one track. We are helping the partner to focus on their specialization and expertise and work hand in glove so that whichever are their interests area.
Our partners appreciate the fact that Oracle is very focused on each of these track addressing different segment with a sharp focus on different areas of business. This is the feedback which we are getting from them, because even though it was launched before the pandemic in overall perspective, during the pandemic, we have seen that this has helped the partner We are also able to provide them with extended services, such as the requirements partners ask for, be it universal credit for developing their cloud offering on our cloud platform, or maybe pertaining to specific new offerings as they go to the market with the customer needs.
Now during the pandemic time working along with the partners, what we have seen is that there has been a lot of specialization drive, which has been taken up by the partner themselves for their organization and from an Oracle perspective, we have worked with them to see that they get more specialized, there are free Oracle cloud infrastructure certifications, which we were working for the partners during the COVID. There are in-depth learning, which has been made very easy because this is the only way of getting those learning now. It is in depth which has helped partners. There is a repository for the partners which we use for our internal purpose or internal employees like sales central, workload, estimator, cost estimator, the cloud economics which the partner has started utilizing very effectively and which showing results. We have something called Oracle digital marketing perspective for driving campaigns. Oracle continues to work closely with all its partners to ensure that there is business continuity.
OMDC is Oracle Digital Marketing Center, which is a great tool.
How was Oracle helping out partners with their cash flow challenges and in offering remote support and services to customers?
Our partners not only Oracle perspective, even the partners, through, the remote support perspective as long as in order to ensure that business continue to continued. Not only us, but our partners also did a tremendous great job.
We worked with the partners on various fronts as I spoke earlier. We also ensured that from a cashflow perspective, how we could help them improve the situation at so that impact is lesser from the segment perspective and also from case to case perspective. We worked together along with the partner to ensure that things worked out possibly so that the impact from an overall perspective is less even in the forms of some extended thing from an case to case basis, depending on the segment which got affected from an overall perspective.
What were the specific financial incentives for partners to mitigate the cash flow challenges?
We try to work on case to case basis with the partners from that perspective and few areas but there we followed a common policy from that perspective.
How did the changing workloads impact the exiting SLAs?
What we are seeing on the ground is that from an SLA perspective, whether it is our on premise business or the cloud customer or our hardware customer, for the customer, what is becoming more essential is the business continuity. We are seeing a great shift of customers who are talking about the movements into cloud because this business continuity has become a very crucial issue. Especially from the learning perspective there are more and more people, customers wants to focus on their core business and instead of managing IT services or the software related things more, and they are happy if there is someone who is there as a company who can take care of the SLAs and overall. Whether it is from an economic perspective of higher ability taking concerns from the security concerns, all those are being taken care of . They are also realizing that the cloud is one of the best ways for going forward for most of the applications and we see a lot of interest coming in from our customers and customers are talking about transformation deal from that perspective. Customers are moving from on-prem to a cloud kind of environment or getting few of their contracts moved from on-premise to cloud so that they can handle this kind of business continuity better. That is one thing which we are seeing from an overall perspective, which we are seeing on the ground.
Second from the delivery perspective overall, the partners, the customers, all are equally into it. Keeping the customer’s confidence, the partner confidence, we have handled it and this was a problem to everyone and keeping the customer and the partner involved and informed and everything.
This is something which had hit everyone, and customers and partners were also very supportive in this time from that angle e now even from a partner, the cash flow perspective as far as the deal to deal basis. Oracle and even the customers have been also trying to work closely to see that this kind of situation works out.
The other thing, which is the shift, when you talk about the cashflow thing, is that more and more customers and partners are seeing the movement to cloud is helping them from an overall capital going at one shot and even cash flow perspective.
That is also another important thing, which is making more and more customer to look at other than the great feature and the manageability SLAs which different cloud providers can bring in, along with the partner, the change in the overall cashflow from a business perspective and the expenditure in the sort of an OpEx model rather than a CapEx model is also making them as one of the, another reason why more and more customers other than the business continuity point are looking at moving to cloud.
What has been the vertical-wise traction for different workloads among enterprise customers in the current situation?
We’ve seen more and more manufacturing vertical, even restrategizing and trying to look on a cloud based model rather than on-premise model. Of course, it depends on the triggers also which are there from their perspective, whether they have a hardware refresh or they are moving their application. Those are there, but overall perspective we have seen that they being more and more trying to look at cloud perspective, whether it is from a CapEx perspective or any other features.
We have seen that shift in the manufacturing and in the manufacturing segments, other than a few segments, if you go into the auto industry or there has been slow from an overall business perspective. So for them, they are re-shifting on their model and trying to work and go from a business continuity model and expense model in a model, which helps them. We are seeing good traction from them from a cloud perspective also.
BFSI segment also from an overall perspective, with the challenges they have been trying to address and help whether it is from the different changes which are happening. Overall we are seeing that, with the new way of working, they’ve also accustomed to that and we are also seeing the vertical, lot of discussions going on because this segment was primarily more focused because it consists of public sector and non-public sector, even, they are looking at a hybrid kind of a story with a mix of on-premise, cloud and certain perspectives, certain private banks are looking at even if a full fledged cloud strategy from that angle perspective.
People have started thinking differently, as far as all these verticals are also concerned, of course, with the fundamental principles in place, people are trying to adapt to the new thing and working out a model which can be a continuous process change perspective. In some way, this situation which has been brought up is making people think and transform in new, innovative ways, so that from their business perspective, they bring more agility,from their cost perspective, their expense perspective, it is an overall strategy, lot of things, which we are seeing across different verticals and even SMB perspective as far as this is concerned.
What were the developments on the government front and on the SMB side from an Oracle perspective?
SMB is primarily looking at cloud perspective, whether it is from an IaaS, PaaS or infrastructure perspective, or even from smaller ERP, from a SaaS perspective or NetSuite perspective, we have seen the SMB segment focusing majorly on our SaaS NetSuite product and even on our IaaS-PaaS product.
Government has is also adapted to the change. Let’s face it, it is not that the way we are working from a private sector perspective, even the government customers have changed majorly and they have worked in this because the model for them, they’re not going from a full staff perspective to an office, but they have adapted the new model and they are working smoothly. It is not that, for the last six months,things are not happening. Overall perspective, even discussions on the solutions, models from a project perspective, we are seeing that, they are also putting in the changed and transformed thing in this time and they are putting in a lot of efforts to ensure that the things continue. So we are seeing good traction with the government on, of course, on the necessary projects perspective, which we worked on.
We’re seeing changes around even in these unprecedented conditions. There are lots of moments, cases, SLAs, even along with our partners who are supporting them, they are supporting even remotely and even few of the mission critical one, from an on-premise perspective, but things are moving and even the crucial projects are being discussed, we have seen great moment also in a gem perspective in the government.
How did Oracle look at balancing between retaining existing customers and acquiring new customers?
We have worked with our existing clients to give new solutions to them or expand the solution. Even in these times, there have been new acquisition of customers and from a different segment perspective, including Government, manufacturing BFSI.
Just to go back to the OPN 2020 and focus on the co-tenants perspective when we are engaging with our partners and customers, of course the most important thing is the customer centricity which helps our partners to showcase their expertise and enable customers to identify partners that will deliver value for the specific needs. Overall a success driven approach where increased investment in enablers, designed to build our own expertise, to drive customer success, grow partner revenue and accelerate path to cloud. It’s a very simplified process where we have streamlined and make it easier for the partners to engage with Oracle and leverage industry broadness and most integrated cloud and on-premise portfolio.
Now, if you look at the OPN, this three things which we are looking at the core, this has also helped because at the end of the day, along with our reach of partners and this simplified OPN, which is there, in this time, we have been able to serve our existing customers. We have been able to work with our existing customer to look at their new solution, or for example, an on- premise customer to move some of their workloads to cloud and also work on parallelly on other workloads from a future perspective. The partner community has also helped us to work along with them to work on new deals, new customer acquisition in the form of cloud and on-premise, both. That extends more of the cloud IaaS and SaaS perspective. Along with our partners, we’ve been abke to acquire new customes as well as retained existing customers.
In this scenario, there are certain people have moved their whole game plan and moved as transformation so that they have their business continuity in future.
What were the priority activities from the marketing and marcom perspective from Oracle during these times
This time, what we have done is, other than whatever I mentioned about working along with the partners, we have also ensured that we are enabling our partners through our digital learning initiatives. In fact, we have certain dedicated avenues where they can learn. Get certified access resources, whether it is sales, presales or other certification. This is something which we have worked along with them now, which has helped them to grow and working on a communication perspective marketing. One of the greatest things which we have done is we have something called the Oracle digital Marketing Center or ODMC. It’s a modern marketing autonomous platform that provides our Oracle partner OPN community is suit fully integrated digital marketing tactics in it. It is ready to execute Oracle marketing campaigns and content designed to enhance partners’ go to market strategy. It improves results and strengthened a partner’s brand also, from that perspective. Number of our partners are also taking advantages of ODMC services and have been able to get not only leads but from an overall closer perspective at this time. So this is something which we are working along with our partners and we are seeing good results.
What are the parameters for measuring OPN 2020 success and how do you make partners more productive?
OPN 2020 is a very new program, we had taken back from, all across a different range of customers, whether it is our reseller, our system integrator or our ISV partners or hardware partners, and also looked at focused cloud and service partner. We had taken inputs from them and this program was launched in end of last year and it came in a time and all this started. So it helped us also to address this time better. Now most of the things have already built in that, but again, it is a continuous process. We work along with our partners, we take the regular feedback,not only from a country specific or even a region specific area. There’s regular discussions with the India partners also, we work with them, take their feedback and even there are representative from the India partner community in the overall APAC partner. We have a place where we discuss along with the partners, take feedback and work upon things and make things simpler, so that it can help the partners and us.
If there are any changes, which needs to be brought in based on partner’s input, we try to incorporate and take it forward but overall again to touch upon the three core areas, customer centricity, then success driven approach and it’s simplified process is the key for the OPN.
How is Oracle reconciling to synergize with a heterogenous set of partners?
The OPN simplified program is helping us. We have people to work with different set of partners. Even from an Oracle perspective, sometimes a partner will play in all the four areas, a bigger SI may do that, but otherwise it is very clear, the partner focus perspective where they are playing. For example, someone is playing from a resale perspective only, someone is playing only from a cloud service perspective or someone is playing from a cloud resell perspective. Everywhere we have people even inside company, we have worked and built our teams so that our partners, whoever is focused on whichever approach we can support them.
We precisely understand that each of these players are different. An ISV is different from an SI and services focus versus the reseller focus and what it means from a customer relationship perspective that is why we are able to cater to all of them in a better way while driving success for them and their end customer.
Additionally, what we do along with partners is for each of these partners for their specific focus area, we continue to constantly invest in skilling, re-skilling, up-skilling our partners and whichever partners want to re-scale and upscale and move to cloud, we try to help them from our partner perspective also, our partners from a cloud first world perspective also.
How did Oracle sort of ensured the partners to follow only digital closures of deals?
First and foremost, during this time also, whether it is our partners or we are customers and even from an overall perspective of deal closure, we have seen great deals closing. We have even seen great transformation deals closing during this time from an India perspective and it has been closing from each of the segments, not only from the enterprise segment or SMB segment or the Government segment. In this situation, with the help of the new technologies which are there be it Zoom perspective we have been closing deals.
With all this communication tools even remotely, the physical presence may be missing, but people are able to see each other and talk and close things. In one side, that touch is crucial, definitely and, once this period gets over, we will be back to that but even in this time, with everyone, whether the customer or the partner and even the OEMs, we are seeing that, everyone has adapted to this very well. Even though physical communication is not happening the next best thing, which is through any video and audio, people are discussing deals and closure is happening. This is our third quarter into the scenario and overall whether it is existing customer or new customer or even transformation projects, we have seen that this happening. Of course, there are challenges. It would always be great to have a face-to-face discussion and close certain things, which in normally takes a little more of time which can get covered in maybe one meeting takes two meetings, but overall we have seen great successes even in this time and I willl believe as customer partners and we all have adapted to this.
What will be Oracle’s key focus priority areas for the next couple of quarters?
Focus continues on cloud in all forms, whether it is OCI, or IaaS, SaaS perspective. Over there, we want to work more with our partners and ISVs to ensure that we work on the workload, on OCI and take it to the customer and work along with the customer from a transformation project perspective.
We are trying to work in this next two quarters more constantly with the partners on skilling, reskilling, their focused areas and their skill sets, especially with links to cloud. It is a constant process. It is not only with the partner, we do it with our teams across all, whether it is sales, pre-sales or channels and everywhere. We give the same thing, which we, work along internally, and then it is passed on to our partners and customers so that they see the benefits and whoever wants to get the benefit of learning more and more in this time. So that is a focus area, which we want to go on and work on.
Primarily these are the areas, which we see our focusing perspective. Segment wise, we want to focus on all the segments. In some way we can work with them and help from optimizing on OPEX model rather than a CapEx in the form of cloud. These are the areas which we are focusing on the next two to three quarters. Of course the other thing is there, we are trying to ensure that we have enough time in keeping customers timelines, partners’ timeline, and proactively trying to address a situation in this time so that from an execution perspective, we are prepared and execute, within the time, any new deal, whether from a cloud perspective or hardware perspective.
What are the marquee logos in the Oracle portfolio now?
We have great logos like, Mannapuram, NITI Aayog, IFFCO from IaaS and PaaS perspective. We have great logos from a SaaS perspective worldwide.
Even in India perspective, there are referenceable SaaS customers, there are work-in progress customers, From India perspective, there are projects which are going on in RP, HCM, CX, OCI domains.
What will be Oracle’s message for both partners and customers?
We understand the sensitivity of this time and we would be working very closely with our partners to ensure that the business continuity in this time is maintained. We assure that from our perspective, we are doing our best across so that, whatever way we can support in this time. Especially from the partner perspective we would like to enhance your skill and identify your focus area more so that we can work together and create more business avenues for you and for us. Also, in this time, it is important for everyone to stay healthy along with your family and take necessary precaution as much as possible from that angle.